Budget carrier Ryanair cuts flights as contagions increase

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Passengers board a Ryanair airplane, in Palermo, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Italy’s aviation authority, ENAC, has put RyanAir on notice that it has ‘’repeatedly violated’’ rules aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, warning that the budget carrier risks suspension in Italy unless it complies. ENAC said in a statement Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 that RyanAir had repeatedly disregarded rules, calling it ‘’behavior disrespectful of the health measures in Italy.’’ They include requiring passengers to wear masks, restricting baggage on board to small items placed in plastic bags and preventing crowding at baggage pickup. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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LONDON (AP) — Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, plans to cut capacity by 20% in September and October as a surge in COVID-19 cases dents bookings.

The low-cost carrier said Monday that most of the reductions would come from trimming the frequency of flights, rather than route closures. Ryanair said the cuts would be focused on flights serving countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, where a rise in coronavirus cases has triggered tighter travel restrictions.

The airline said in a statement that the curbs were “unavoidable given the recent weakness in forward bookings due to COVID restrictions in a number of EU countries.’’ Affected passengers will receive emails advising them of their options.

Dublin-based Ryanair also called on Ireland to ease restrictions on travel from countries where COVID-19 infection rates are lower than in Ireland. Travelers from countries like Germany and the U.K. are required to quarantine for two weeks, even though Ireland has a higher infection rate.

Meanwhile, British rival easyJet said it would move ahead with plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports in England after consulting with unions.

The airline said all flights to and from Southend would be cancelled beginning Sept. 1. EasyJet said it will continue to serve Stansted and Newcastle from other hubs, but some flights to and from the airports will be cancelled.

EasyJet didn’t specify how many jobs would be lost due to the closures. In May, the airline said it might have to cut its workforce by 30% due to the pandemic.

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